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Does Cocaine Affect Your Liver?

A man struggling with liver disease.
Cocaine abuse can do significant harm to your body, including damaging your liver.

The first time you took cocaine, the intense pleasure you felt practically knocked you off your feet. Since then, you crave the euphoria, confidence and self-esteem you feel when you’re high.

But behind all that masked exhilaration and ecstasy is a price tag – and a pretty hefty one, at that. Sometimes, your cocaine use makes you anxious, angry or paranoid. You may act out towards those you love and become physically nauseous. Over time, cocaine abuse does significant damage to all parts of your body, including your liver.

The Liver’s Role in the Body

Remember the last time you were standing in line outside your favorite night club? You probably couldn’t get in until the bouncers said so. And if a fight broke out or people became too rowdy, the bouncers probably served as the “muscle” of the night club, tossing out the troublemakers in order to maintain order.

Think of your liver in a similar capacity, serving as the “muscle” of your digestive system. Your liver performs 500 tasks to help keep you healthy, including serving as a filter for all the healthy (and not so healthy) substances you put in your body.

When you eat, drink or take medicine, your liver determines what toxins need to be removed from your body, what nutrients should be stored and when those nutrients should be sent to the blood. The liver also manages the storage and release of glucose to maintain stable blood sugar levels and breaks down and absorbs fats that you consume from food.

Specific functions of your liver include:

  • Regulating blood clotting
  • Producing proteins used for blood plasma
  • Converting excess glucose to glycogen
  • Producing cholesterol and special proteins which help transfer fats throughout the body
  • Producing bile which helps remove waste from the body and break down fats during digestion

Your liver is quite an overachiever, and a rather successful one! But its own health and functions become compromised when illicit drugs like cocaine enter the body.

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How Cocaine Causes Liver Damage

Is cocaine bad for your liver? A lot of research has focused on how cocaine affects the heart, since heart attack is the leading cause of death for people who abuse cocaine. And when we hear about drug use and liver damage, we assume it’s about alcohol because liver disease is linked to alcoholism.

Cocaine is also extremely harmful to the brain and spinal cord thanks to dopamine and norepinephrine.

But while stories like these get much of the spotlight, cocaine is working behind the scenes, steadily and aggressively attacking your liver. Each time you consume cocaine, you’re flooding your body with more and more toxins that your liver can’t filter out. Not only does this constant cocaine use increase your chances of suffering an overdose, it also harms your liver.

Studies have shown that long-term cocaine use can impair its ability to function and can result in spikes in liver enzyme levels.

Other effects cocaine has on the liver include:

  • Viral hepatitis (liver inflammation)
  • Renal/kidney failure
  • Arterial hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Rhabdomyolysis (the release of dead muscle fibers into the bloodstream

Furthermore, agents are often added to cocaine to “cut” it in order for it to increase its weight. Drug dealers will often use chemicals such as fentanyl, amphetamines, caffeine, laundry detergent, laxatives, and boric acid to increase their margins. These agents serve to increase the toxicity of the cocaine to your liver.

In essence, flooding your liver with harmful toxins when using cocaine causes it to have to work extremely hard to filter them out, which can result in unnecessary fatigue and possible organ failure.

If cocaine abuse continues and intensifies, there’s a chance you’ll suffer from acute liver damage that can lead to death. Your liver takes an even bigger hit if you’re struggling with a dual diagnosis disorder of cocaine and alcohol addiction. These two substances together cause your heart to produce a highly toxic substance called cocaethylene that does more damage to your liver than cocaine or alcohol alone.

Find Lasting Recovery from Cocaine Addiction at The Raleigh House

The good news is, your liver can recover if you put a stop to your cocaine addiction. But even strong, powerful night club bouncers are fallible and vulnerable if they find themselves in too much danger or in the line of fire.

Your liver does a lot to keep you healthy, so don’t let cocaine abuse cripple one of your body’s star players. If you’re struggling with cocaine use, the best way to break your addiction and help your liver recover is to enter a credible addiction treatment center like The Raleigh House.

At The Raleigh House, we have over 10 years of experience helping others just like you work through their cocaine addiction and regain a sober, fulfilling life.

We take both an evidence-based and holistic approach to cocaine addiction treatment. This means that besides individual and group therapy, we’ll help heal your body and liver through a natural, healthy pro-recovery nutrition regimen.

During your time in our residential treatment program, you’ll eat fresh, home-made meals designed to combat the damage your cocaine abuse has caused. And when you transition into outpatient treatment, we’ll teach you how to maintain a pro-recovery diet on your own.

Are you ready to finally break free from cocaine abuse? Our admissions team is available to help you get started. Learn more about our cocaine addiction treatment program and how to begin the admissions process.

Contact us today or call (720) 891-4657 for more information.

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